Extensions to Packaging Producer Responsibility (UK)

Anna McMorrin has today (13th June) introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill to extend the existing Packaging Producer Responsibility arrangements.

Information is set out here – LabourList.

I will update this post, as further information is forthcoming (including the Bill wording). So please make a note to return to this post online, as an email will not be sent out.

NB: Ten Minute Rule Bills are a type of Private Members’ Bills. To become law, a Private Members’ Bill must be taken up by the Government.

Waste Classification (EU)

The European Commission has issued new technical guidance on the classification of waste. This guidance is here.

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists will have this guidance added (ENV Waste). Some will already have requested it, and had it inserted.

Individual Member States may also issue local guidance from time to time.

Note : this guidance is without prejudice to the interpretation which may be given by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), and the views expressed cannot prejudge the position that the Commission might take before the CJEU.

Single-use plastics : new rules proposed (EU)

The European Commission is proposing new EU-wide rules to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.

The proposed new rules (if agreed) will introduce :

(1) Plastic ban in certain products: Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market. The ban will apply to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons which will all have to be made exclusively from more sustainable materials instead. Single-use drinks containers made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached;

(2) Consumption reduction targets: Member States will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups. They can do so by setting national reduction targets, making alternative products available at the point of sale, or ensuring that single-use plastic products cannot be provided free of charge;

(3) Obligations for producers: Producers will help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up, as well as awareness raising measures for food containers, packets and wrappers (such as for crisps and sweets), drinks containers and cups, tobacco products with filters (such as cigarette butts), wet wipes, balloons, and lightweight plastic bags. The industry will also be given incentives to develop less polluting alternatives for these products;

(4) Collection targets: Member States will be obliged to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025, for example through deposit refund schemes;

(5) Labelling Requirements: Certain products will require a clear and standardised labelling which indicates how waste should be disposed, the negative environmental impact of the product, and the presence of plastics in the products. This will apply to sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons;

(6) Awareness-raising measures: Member States will be obliged to raise consumers’ awareness about the negative impact of littering of single-use plastics and fishing gear as well as about the available re-use systems and waste management options for all these products.

The Commission’s proposals will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption.

NOTE : some EU member states already have legislation in place or planned, for part or all of these measures.

See here, for the European Commission press release.

Reminder : updated Blog Posts

I updated the Waste (EU) post with an important change. The Waste (UK) post is also updated.

Please make sure to note when I write within a post, that I will update that post.

Post updates are not notified by email, and I don’t issue posts notifying which posts I updated. So keep a record to check the post that’s of interest itself on the platform.

Waste Crime (UK – E&W)

DEFRA is conducting a consultation on proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector, and introduce a new fixed penalty for the householder waste duty of care. The consultation closes on 26th March 2018, and applies to England and Wales. The consultation document is here.

One part of this consultation proposes changes to the waste exemption regime (set out in Schedule 3 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 (as amended)).

Waste exemptions are exemptions from the need for an environmental permit for waste recovery and disposal operations. Since exemptions were first introduced in 1994, the government has made extensive use of them (within the EU rules) to provide a light-touch form of regulation for small-scale, low risk waste management activities.

In England and Wales, there are 59 types of exempt waste operations available for the use (U), treatment (T), storage (S) and disposal (D) of waste. Similar provisions exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland (but note the exact exemptions are different).

Apart from exemption T11 for the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), it is free to register one or more exemptions at a site. The registration is valid for three years and then automatically expires, and can be re-registered or “renewed” for another three years. Each exemption has conditions setting out the types and quantities of waste that can be managed. The conditions also set out what treatments can be carried out, how the waste must be stored, and which environmental protection measures must be complied with.

Registering an exemption is not the same as applying for and receiving an environmental permit. A permit amounts to “permission” from the regulators to carry a set of particular activities. In contrast, by registering an exemption, the establishment or undertaking is self- certifying that they have read and understood the conditions of the exempt activity and will comply with them. At the point of registration, the regulators do not assess whether the criteria defined in the exemption are met.

The proposals set out for consultation focus on four areas: (pages 40 to 67 of the consultant document)

1. Prohibiting the use of waste exemptions in specified circumstances;

2. Making changes to the ten waste exemptions identified as being associated with the greatest levels of non-compliance and illegality;

3. Requiring additional information to support effective regulation of the regime;

4. Improving the process to register or continue an exemption.

Use the resources set out here to respond to this consultation.

Subscribers (England and Wales) to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists will receive an Email Alert when the EPR changes.

UK exits the EU (EU Notices – UK questions for UK DEFRA)

Two days ago 21st Feb the UK Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee (select committee) wrote to the UK DEFRA Secretary of State. This letter is here. The letter asks Michael Gove to seek the UK Government’s view on the EU Commission’s advice to environment and food stakeholders on preparing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario.

Background

The European Commission is publishing a series of Notices setting out the consequences for trading and legal arrangements in the event that no Brexit deal is reached by 30 March 2019. I have blog posted about this and in addition to the EU Commission with its website of Notices, European Agencies such as ECHA (the European Chemicals Agency) are also issuing notices – please see my earlier Blog posts. NB: the EU Notices state unless a different date is set out and agreed in the Withdrawal Treaty, the UK is a Third Country from 30 March 2019 (and the consequences set out in the Notices, summarised below, will apply from that date).

Many are addressed to stakeholders across the food, farming and waste sectors. They state (in summary) that a variety of certifications issued by the UK will no longer be valid, that certain organisations will need an EU base or representative to continue to operate in the EU, and that some food trade exports will be prohibited unless certain steps are taken. Note also the impacts on transboundary waste movement (see an earlier Blog post of mine).

The Committee letter writes to Defra’s Secretary of State to ask:

* Whether the Government is seeking to get UK environment and food certifications recognised by the EU

* What assessment the Government has made of the impact on individuals, organisations and the UK economy of UK environment and food certification no longer being recognised, and of reapplying for certification

* What steps the Government is taking to ensure food of animal origin can be exported to the EU in a ‘no deal’ scenario

* Whether the Government intends to provide similar advice to its own citizens working in the food, farming and waste sectors.

Plastic Strategy (EU)

The EU has adopted today (16th January 2018) its first plastic strategy. The press release is here. The Q&A is here.

Next Steps

The new Directive on port reception facilities proposed today will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption.

Subject to Better Regulation requirements, the Commission will present the proposal on single-use plastics later in 2018.

Stakeholders have until 12 February 2018 to contribute to the ongoing public consultation.

The Commission will launch the work on the revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and prepare guidelines on separate collection and sorting of waste to be issued in 2019.

For the full list of measures and their timeline, see the Annex to the Plastics Strategy here.

A few remarks (in the UK Brexit context)

(1) I posted a few days ago about imminent changes to 6 EU Waste Directives (the EU Circular Economy Package). The new rules will fix a new target of 55% recycling of plastic packaging waste by 2030, set a ban on landfilling separately collected waste and fix stronger arrangements for extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes. It is not announced if the UK will follow this.

(2) The EU Plastic Strategy identifies that by 2030 all plastic packaging should be designed to be recyclable or reusable. To achieve this, the European Commission will work on a revision of the legislative requirements for placing packaging on the market. The revision process will focus on defining the concept of design for recyclability. The goal is to decrease the quantity of waste generated and to avoid that these materials end up as litter, are incinerated or are landfilled where can be recycled. This also includes the issue of over-packaging. It is not announced if the UK will follow this (the commitment in the UK 25-yr environmental plan is to eliminate plastic waste where practicable by 2042).

(3) Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5 mm. They end up in the surface waters and the marine environment, either because they are used intentionally in products in order to accomplish a certain function (e.g. microbeads in cosmetics as exfoliating agents) or because they are generated through the breakdown of larger plastic pieces and through the wear and tear of products (e.g. through abrasion of tyres or washing of textiles).

The European Commission has started work to restrict the use of microplastics that are intentionally added in products through the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regulation (REACH).

Regarding unintentional release of microplastics, the European Commission is examining options such as labelling, minimum requirements for product design and durability, methods to assess quantities and pathways of microplastics in the environment, funding for targeted research and innovation.

The UK Government has brought in Microbeads Regulations applicable in England. I posted earlier about this, and Email Alerts have been sent (if you did not receive an Email Alert, and need the legislation adding to your EHS Legislation and Law Checklists, please let me know).

(4) The EU Plastic Strategy proposes to look into actions to specifically tackle single-use plastic items and other marine litter, including lost or abandoned fishing gear. Preparatory work has started on a legislative initiative on single-use plastics to be tabled by the European Commission, following the approach already used to tackle light-weight plastic bags.

The results of an ongoing public consultation will help determine the measures to be taken. The UK 25-yr environment plan contains proposals on single-use plastics, but not specifically on fishing gear.

(5) A 2015 amendment of the European Packaging and Packaging Directive mandated Member States to address plastic bag use – see article 4(1a) in the Directive itself here. The UK brought in Legislation in all UK jurisdictions (prior to the 2015 Directive amendment being agreed) and recently signalled it would remove the exemptions that were applied in England.

Note : the provisions of article 8a in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive which relate to the labelling and identification of biodegradable and compostable plastic carrier bags, the implementation period (for Member States) is 18 months from the date of that separate 2017 European instrument.